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Men's Basketball Holds Annual Media Day

Oct. 29, 2009

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University of Miami Basketball Media Day

Oct. 28, 2009

 

Head Coach Frank Haith

“We’re excited for another season. We really like our team. We’re young, but we also have some veterans and we’re excited about their improvement over the last season. We’re really excited about the newcomers and what they bring to the table. They young guys have really worked extremely hard in practice, and our practices have been very competitive. These guys are practicing really hard – as hard as any team we’ve had here, and that’s been great to see. I think that we have depth because of that. When you have practices that are very competitive like we’ve had, you feel good about your team. I’m excited about going out and playing against somebody else. They’re going after each other pretty strong. We have our first closed scrimmage on Saturday against Central Florida. I’m really excited to see us compete against somebody else.”

 

On expected contributions from transfer sophomore Malcolm Grant

“I expect him to really help a lot. He’s a talented kid. I think he’s a complete point guard – he can really score the ball, but he also can play make, which excites me. He has great pace – he’s almost an `old-school’ player, like a Tiny Archibald. He’s got that in and out, stop and go; but he gets in the paint and can make plays for his teammates. He’s also a very good leader and that’s critical too. He has great command of his teammates and he has great presence. He’s a talker – you will know that over his career. We had Media Day in the Atlantic Coast Conference on Sunday and I had so many comments from reporters appreciative how he’s very vocal and willing to give up things – and we have to make sure he’s media savvy. [Laughter] He’s a good kid.”

 

“I recruited Malcolm out of high school and he ended up going to Villanova. When he decided to leave we were one of the schools that he was interested in looking at because he had looked at us prior to. He got caught in the numbers game at Villanova, which sometimes happens. They have great guards there and Malcolm had some great success at times as a freshman. He had some games where he played really well, but in terms of the numbers he got caught with a lot of players.”

 

Advantage of having transfer players…

“There’s a tremendous advantage – if they take advantage of that sit-out year, which Malcolm did. He had an opportunity like Jack [McClinton] to go against the great players. Guillermo Diaz and Rob Hite were here when Jack sat out and everyday Jack had an opportunity to go against those guys and it really helped him. Because you’re not playing games, you really have to be focused on what you’re trying to get accomplished in that year out when you want to get better. And there’s no question Malcolm handled it the same way. He went at Jack everyday at practice and he worked hard after practice because he wasn’t playing. Before games he would get a workout in and that’s what you want.”

 

On freshman Durand Scott

“I think we’ve done a great job each year in developing our recruiting and getting better each year. Durand [Scott] is part of a recruiting class which I think is the best class we’ve signed since we’ve been here. He’s a five-star recruit. We’re excited about his development. We’re excited about what he brings to the table – and that is a lot of the things we’ve talked about with Malcolm Grant. He [Durand] can handle the ball, he can play make, he gets in the paint, he’s got kind of an `old-man’s game’ too. He’s got great ball skills and is a great competitor – tough competitor. He wants to win – they all want to win, but he’s just a tough competitor and played in a great high school program that won the state championship in New York last year. He was MVP of the state championship game, so you know he’s been through some tough games and we’re excited about Durand. He’s going to play a lot. He’s an impact player.”

 

On perimeter play…

“Our three freshmen perimeter players join just three returning perimeter players, so there’s no question they will have an impact early – and often and all year. Garrius Adams along with Antoine Allen are really good players. They are talented guys. I don’t know if this equates to wins, but collectively this is the first group of perimeters players we’ve had where they can all go get their own shots. Obviously when you have an offensive set and plays, you can get scouted. Now we’ve got guys that can go make their own plays. We have guys that can break defenses down without having to have all these screening actions. We now have guys that can create havoc off the dribble, and that’s the neat thing about this team. All these freshmen guys are able to do that.”

 

“I think we’ll be a really good shooting team. You can’t compare anybody to Jack [McClinton], but we do have guys that can shoot the ball. Obviously Adrian Thomas, Malcolm Grant, Garrius Adams – all of those guys are really good shooters. James Dews is strong three-point shooter, so I’m not concerned about us making threes.”

 

On the improvement of DeQuan Jones

“He is shooting the ball much better. I think DeQuan’s role will be to be a great defender for us, play with athleticism, rebound the basketball… His can make jump shots, his game has improved immensely, but I think his role and what he brings to this team is so much more than the ability to make jump shots.”

 

On freshman Garrius Adams

“I really loved Garrius in high school and some of the other ACC schools did recruit him, and we’re very fortunate to get him. But with that said, he’s further along than I thought he would be. He can really shoot the ball, he has great savvy about himself. He has a really good feel for the game and picks up things very quickly. He’s got a smooth game – it reminds me a lot of a young man that played at Georgia Tech – Anthony Morrow. But even with that said, he still has really good ball skills. He’s just gotta get stronger and continue to develop his body. But I’ve been very pleased – and surprised – with his development so far.”

 

On the progress of senior Dwayne Collins

“I see Dwayne being more demonstrative and having more command. That has been an area we’ve wanted to see Dwayne get better at. Leadership-wise, he’s talking to his teammates and he’s gotten a lot better at that. I think that all ties into Dwayne’s consistency and Dwayne being assertive on the offensive end. He’s had a really good fall thus far and he knows that we’re coming to him. It’s interesting watching Dwayne now tell guys what they should be doing and where they should be going – and that’s great as a coach because we’ve see Dwayne trying to figure it out himself. Now he’s explaining to the younger guys and talking to them, putting his arm around them, and that means we’ve helped him. That’s great to see.”

 

On Malcolm Grant’s leadership skills and whether it was visible during his redshirt season…

“It was pretty evident. We would have some pow-wows as a team and Malcolm – even though he was not playing – would be the first guy to step up and talk about what’s going on and what he sees. So he’s never going to be shy about stating his opinion – not even last year. So this is not a surprise to us in how he carries himself. We haven’t had that here, we really haven’t, and I love it. I love the fact that Malcolm is competitive. When you’re like that, you’ve got to make sure you’re on par with your game and doing what you’re supposed to be doing. You don’t want to hold anybody else accountable if you can’t hold yourself accountable. That’s why leaders are hard to come by. Leaders don’t always want that role because it’s tough. Malcolm accepts it and handles it with tremendous passion.”

 

On the post players…

“I like the fact that we’ve got some size and we’ve got length in the post. We’re going to need – between Donnavan [Kirk], Julian [Gamble] and Reggie [Johnson] – for one of those guys to really just emerge. Because I do think that obviously Cyrus [McGowan], Dwayne [Collins] and Adrian [Thomas] all will be a part of that rotation, but we need one or maybe two of those guys to really emerge and step forward. Julian Gamble has had a great fall so far. He’s been really, really good. He’s so smart and has great ball skills for a big guy. He can pass, he can dribble, so he doesn’t get rattled. Execution-wise, he’s the best of all our post guys. Donnavan Kirk, I think in time will be very special. He’s just very raw with knowing what’s going on, but he’s extremely talented. His nickname is `Pogo’ – you can figure that out. He’s quick off the floor and he’s bouncy, but he’s still trying to figure out where he’s supposed to be all the time. I think once he grasps that, he’s going to be a really good player.”

 

On replacing Jimmy Graham’s emotional lift…

“We need the emotional lift and that is what Jimmy would bring. We do need that and I don’t know that I can point to one guy, but I want to see us play emotional with all our guys. But Jimmy also brought a lot of toughness, a willingness to take a charge, block a shot – some of the stuff that a lot of guys don’t want to do and that’s what we need. Hopefully Cyrus and Julian Gamble and Reggie, one of those of those guys will want to accept that role because it helps you win games when you have a guy that’s willing to sacrifice his body and do little things.”

 

Overall…

“I think this team is more well-rounded. We’re going to be able to score, but I think we’ll also be a better defensive team than we’ve ever been. I think we’re longer and more athletic and will score in transition. I think we can have four to five guys averaging double figures. With that said, we still have a go-to guy – because I think every team has a guy you want to go to – and that will be Dwayne Collins. So I like the make up of our team. How we score will probably be different – so much of our offense last year was orchestrating shots for Jack [McClinton], screening actions for Jack and we played out of that. But this year we can run more motions, basing, driving. This team will be very good at that.”

 

On the ACC…

“There are so many one-point games, so many overtime games. This league is so competitive. I think it’s wide open. North Carolina, Duke – they are very good teams, but there are very good teams in this league from top to bottom. Our goal is to be in the top half. Our goal is to play in the NCAA Tournament – as it has been every year. Do I think we have a team that could do that? Absolutely. I think we have a team where a lot of things have to happen – we have to get some hours, which I mean play when the lights are on. I think this team talent-wise is very capable of getting to that point and a lot will be determined between now and when we get to league play in developing our young kids.”

 

 

Senior G James Dews

 

On the team…

“I feel like we have a deeper team this year. We have a great recruiting class along with Malcolm [Grant] and Reggie [Johnson]. I feel like now we’re capable of having three to four players in double figures, instead of just one or two. So this year is going to be a pretty good year for us.”

 

On development of freshmen perimeter players…

“It’s been really good. Antoine [Allen] is a tough, hard-nosed guy. Garrius [Adams] can shoot the ball. He’s really, really basketball smart. And Durand [Scott] is an all-around great player. So all the freshmen guards will really be able to help us tremendously.”

 

On Dwayne Collins’ developing consistency…

“That’s the difference for Dwayne between this year and years past. He brings it everyday in practice now. He’s more vocal – which is kind of hard to believe. But Dwayne’s very vocal. He’s a senior and he knows what he has to do. He knows in order to be good he has to dominate in the post.”

 

On his play last season…

“I think maybe I put too much pressure on myself. But this year I want to be more like my sophomore year – more relaxed and let the game come to me. I changed my shot completely to be more consistent because the way I was shooting it [last year], I wouldn’t shoot the same all the time. I fixed my form and stayed in the gym and worked out a lot more. So now my jump shot is totally different.”

 

“Last year was tough – one game I would have 19 points and then the next game I wouldn’t play as well. It was our whole team – we weren’t consistent. I think that’s why we weren’t as good as we were two years ago because we weren’t consistent at all.”

 

On Malcolm Grant’s leadership…

“He’s new to other people, but the good thing for us is that he was here all last year. He’s a point guard so he has to be vocal. Having that type of guy who is willing to yell at someone who isn’t doing what he’s supposed to do helps us all out. We trust Malcolm and he gives us 110 percent everyday.”

 

“He’s the first true point guard I’ve probably every played with. So I find myself getting my shots a lot easier and I know Dwayne and everyone else can vouch for that. Having a great point guard like that, being able to get to the hole and create and make all the other players around him better is very, very helpful.”

 

On the freshmen…

 “The freshmen are fitting in really well. They are learning the system fairly easy. Their knowledge of the game is really, really good so that’s definitely helping them get along really well.”

 

“Durand is a baller. Durand can play. He’s really, really great guard. He has long arms he can use on defense. Another guy I think is going have a special year is Garrius Adams. He can shoot the ball really well and he’s so basketball smart. I think he’s going to have a tremendous year. His length is going to cause a lot of mismatch problems. Antoine brings it every day – really good on defense, really solid, really quick. He’s been working on his shot and can shoot the ball well. Donnavan [Kirk] is a monster. He wants to get better every day. You see him in the weight room, constantly growling. He loves to work. He’s really athletic and will be good for us.”

 

 

Senior F Adrian Thomas

 

On life at Miami…

 “I’m enjoying every minute here. I’m doing something new and going for my master’s [degree]. Everything happens for a reason.”

 

On his role on the team…

“I’m spreading the offense out a little more so we can spread out the defense and create match up problems for everybody yet again. I’m doing more than just shooting, becoming more of a playmaker and leader on the court.”

 

On the offense…

“I think we’ll get scoring from everywhere. DJ [DeQuan Jones] driving and making plays or me shooting threes. Throw it into Dwayne [Collins]. There’s not really a lot of sets like we had with Jack [McClinton] last year.”

 

 

Freshman G Durand Scott

 

On choosing to come to Miami…

“Miami is a family unit and Coach [Haith] is great, the fans are great. One thing I recognized, even if you don’t try to meet somebody, people are going to meet you. That’s just the type of people we have around here. Everybody is loving and supportive and that’s one thing I love. I didn’t come here just for basketball – I came here for education, social life – this is where I’m going to spend my four years so I couldn’t make this decision only about basketball. Some of the other schools portrayed to me that they wanted me just for basketball so I wasn’t feeling that. I wanted more than that.”

 

On what he likes about Coach Haith…

“The style of play is tremendous to me – the way he plays his guards and allows them to attack the basket off the dribble because that’s the type of player I am. I think I fit pretty well with the way I play and Coach Haith’s style of team.”

 

On expectations for his freshman year…

“I’m definitely excited about the season. I have a little chip on my shoulder, I got a little something to prove. I believe that I’ve been overlooked so I’ve got a lot of things to prove so I’m definitely excited, especially to play with my guys on my team.”

 

“I hate to lose so I’d love to win every game we ever play. Sometimes you have to lose to gain success and realize where we are on the scale so we can measure ourselves to know that we need to work harder or stay humble.”

 

 

Freshman G Garrius Adams

 

On expectations from the freshmen class…

“We were saying the other day actually how excited we were especially because the season is coming so fast. We were talking how we want to do good and we don’t want to let anybody down. We just want to play as hard as we can because that’s all we can do to be a better team.”

 

“We just take it day by day, knowing we have the common goal of trying to win. We just want to do whatever we can as freshmen to step in and take our roles.”

 

On recruiting…

“The experience was very, very important to me. Coming from North Carolina, you always want to go to one of the bigger schools – you always have high-major expectations. But for me, I started off low and it was kind of a low-point, but then I got better at basketball, played harder, worked that much harder in the gym. I wasn’t surprised by the high-major attention once I knew what I could do. I wanted other people to see that.”

 

“What made me come here is my teammates, being comfortable with the school and my relationship with the coaches. I just found a level of comfort here that I didn’t find at any other school.”

 

On the point guards…

“When you come off screens, you already expect the ball to be there because we have two really great point guards. I think they are going to do a really good job this year of distributing the ball, giving it to the shooting guards and also scoring – which they both can do.”

 

 

Freshman G Antoine Allen

 

On adjusting to Miami…

“Everything has been going well. I’ve been adjusting to running plays, adjusting to my teammates and getting the chemistry right getting ready for the season. I prepare myself mentally for any challenge, so basically I’ve been adjusting and just taking whatever comes towards me.”

 

On expectations as a freshman for this season…

“Of course it’s like any other freshman, to play and make an impact as a freshman. Basically help my team so we can reach the tournament this year.”

 

On his style of play…

I can score, I can get to the rack anytime I want and set my teammates up. I can also play really tough defense on anybody. It’s basically all-around.”

 

On expectations from Coach for freshmen to contribute…

 “I don’t take it as pressure. I take it as preparing myself mentally and knowing when I’m out there, get ready to do what we’re supposed to do. I don’t think it’s pressure. I look at it as an opportunity.”

 

On comparisons to Jack McClinton

“I’ve known Jack for years – he’s a like a big brother, a mentor to me. I get that a lot. Jack was a great player but I don’t try to characterize myself as trying to be like Jack. I want to be my own person. I don’t try to have my game like his or like anyone else, I just play how I like to play.”

 

On the speed of the team…

“We’re going to be a really fast team – fast-paced and pushing the ball, scoring a lot of points, but also getting back on defense. With the players we’ve got, we’re going to be really effective in the open court and also on the fast break.”

 

 

Freshman F Donnavan Kirk

 

On his nickname “Pogo”…

 “Pogo came from being able to jump off the ground quicker. If I shoot the ball and miss it, I know I can jump off the ground quick enough to go back and get it before the next person does. It does help me get a lot of rebounds.”

 

On his game…

“I’m definitely a forward. But if someone is bigger than me I’m definitely not going to back down, I’ll go around him or shoot over him. I really like to get stops on defense, because when you have a great defensive team you’ll win. I block shots, rebound… I really do a lot of different things.”

 

On his expectations for this season…

“I expect to do everything he [Coach Haith] asks me – run the floor, grab rebounds, block shots, play good defense. I know my offense will come.”

 

On choosing to come to Miami…

“I think there comes a time in recruiting when you think `there’s no place I’d rather be’. It’s a program on the rise, a good academic school, they obviously develop players and it’s the ACC.”

 

 

Senior F Dwayne Collins

 

On his growth as a leader…

“It feels good to become more of a leader on this team. It will be hard to replace Jack [McClinton], but with that said I feel good. I used to not talk that much – I just played. This year I have to speak up and let people know if they are doing something wrong. Last year I just let Jack do everything.”

 

On his game…

“I think I can handle the ball more and handle a lot more traps. I believe this year there will be a lot less turnovers. Overall, I feel real good about this year. I believe we’re going to do big things.”

 

On the offense this season…

“This year we’re going to be more inside-out type team, where last year we were more outside-in. Everybody can score. Last year we wanted to be a running team, but this year I think we will be a running team.”

 

On the newcomers…

“They are fitting in real good. They are going to stand out this year and be a big part of this team. I believe all the freshmen are going to get a lot of playing time.”

 

Sophomore C Julian Gamble

 

On having a big man emerge for Miami…

“I don’t really see it as a competition because at the end of the day we’re all on the same team. We all have the common goal of trying to win. I play as hard as I can, but if they don’t know a play I’m going to help them out with a play. If they ask me something I’m going to help them out. It’s not a situation where I want to play and nothing else. It’s more team oriented and about a common goal. As long as the team wins, I’ll be happy regardless of what my role is.”

 

On his expectations for this season…

“I’m really excited for this season. We have a really young team and like to run, so we’ll do a lot out of transition. The team is really athletic and I think we’ll surprise a lot of people. Of course with Jack [McClinton] gone, people are saying `they’re not going to be anywhere as good as they were before’ but I really feel like once people see us play, we’ll surprise a lot of people and they will see how good of a team we really are.”

 

 

R-Sophomore G Malcolm Grant

 

On looking forward to getting back on the court…

“It’s finally here. I can’t wait. It’s been a long wait – I had to sit out last year, but the season is right around the corner. I’m really excited. I can’t wait to get out there.”

 

On the intensity of practices this season…

 “Last year we would have tough practices and then practices where the intensity would go down, so this year I wanted to focus on making sure that every practice is intense because that’s what the game is like. You don’t want the practices to be not the same as the game because then you’re not used to it. So that’s what we’ve been focusing on.”

 

On taking on the role as a vocal leader…

“I’m definitely comfortable. Being a point guard, you have to be an extension of the coach so whatever Coach Haith wants, that’s what I’m trying to show the team. We have to get it done because he knows what it takes to win.”

 

On why he chose Miami…

“I just felt that this was the perfect fit for me. They were recruiting me first before I committed to Villanova. So when I opened my recruitment back up, they were right there showing the most interest. So I just felt like it was the perfect fit. This program has the opportunity to go to a higher level.”

 

On transferring from Villanova…

“I appreciate everything Coach [Jay] Wright did for me, but I had to move on. He gave me a chance to show the world what I could do in certain games, and now I have a bigger opportunity here to show the world that I can do more than just score. There I was only looked at as a scorer, but now I can show people I’m a pure point guard.”

 

On expectations for his first season playing for the Hurricanes…

“To be honest, I’m expecting big things from myself. The main goal for me is that I want to get to the NCAA Tournament and the rest will take care of itself.”

 

On having to sit out a year after transferring to Miami…

“Oh man, it was tough. The home games were packed and the crowd was going crazy, and not being able to help your team – especially when they’re struggling – is very tough. To play a game that you love and then to have it taken away from you is very tough, but it helped me mature physically and mentally. I was able to see the game from a different angle so I think I’ll be able to show people how it helped me and how I was able to take advantage of it.”

 

 

Sophomore G-F DeQuan Jones

 

On how team’s increased height helps…

“I think the length helps out a lot as far as playing zone and also playing man-to-man. We have guys that – for their size – are agile and quick for the most part. I think that’s a big difference also as far as other teams trying to post up the guards and even us trying to utilize our size and post up other guards.”

 

On the speed of the offense…

“It’s much faster. I try to thrive in transition and I can definitely see that with Malcolm [Grant]. As soon as that ball comes out the net, we’re pushing it, looking up the court trying to get it to the open man or he’s trying to get it to someone who’s in position to actually do something with it. Him and Durand [Scott], there’s a lot of guys on our team that actually push the ball up.”

 

On expectations for himself this season…

“I want to be a better defender, rebound the ball more and just be able to knock down open shots. I’ve worked on my jump shot, my ball handling, awareness – just all-around guard skills.”

 

On the higher intensity of practices this season…

“I can definitely see that, but the thing about that is it only brings out the good in each player because everyday is a battle. That’s pretty much how it is in our league – every game is a battle. I feel like if anything that’s a plus.”

 

On the closeness of the team…

“That’s all credited to the coaching staff with recruiting – recruiting positive people, recruiting genuinely good people.”